I need to get up the guts to tell someone something ...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by TerryJ2, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    This has been bothering me for a long time, and I've pretty much made it my New Year's Resolution.

    easy child has gone to Honduras twice on trips to orphanages. The last time she went, the team leader, A, was a 24-yr-old guy whose parents started the group many yrs ago. He has led other teams and they felt he would do just fine. The previous time she went, husband went along, and there were other middle aged adults in the group.

    A did horribly. He did not plan a thing, including which car to drive to the airport, 3 hrs away. He switched cars 2 hrs from the airport in the opposite direction, (something about borrowing a car from a friend) which forced the team stay up all night while he drove.

    He fell asleep at the wheel twice and easy child woke him up and he refused to change places with-anyone else, insisting that he continue to drive. (I needed Xanax when I heard that one!!!)

    When they finally arrived at the airport, the team discovered that he was putting them all on one flight and he was taking a completely different flight. Oh, and he hadn't paid for it yet, so he persuaded one of the team members to give him the $1,200 she had collected from her church to give to the orphans!

    Once they got to Honduras, he insisted they all stay up to pray, so they could do a spiritual sleep deprivation thingy, and everyone refused. easy child said it beautifully--I am here for the orphans and being sleep deprived will not help me. If you want to get closer to God by being sleep deprived, fine, but that's not what we're all here for. We're here to help the kids and that will bring us all closer to God.

    He typically wanders around Chicago or some big city proselytizing to the poor, and living hand to mouth by begging, because that's what Jesus did. (Say what?)

    Two months ago, he fasted for a week with no supervision, no water, no vitamins, then hallucinated, and walked right into the river off the dock near his parents' house in the middle of the night. His dad zoomed into their boat and somehow found him as he went down in the pitch dark. He was hospitalized for a week (his organs shut down due to hypothermia), then stayed at home under supervision for two weeks.

    Now he's on the loose again.

    I think he's Aspie (examples, rigid thinking, won't think to carry luggage, ADHD, can't plan ahead, etc.) and possibly psychotic, but don't know what medications he's on. (easy child said he's on something but wants to keep it confidential.)

    So, I want to meet with-his parents to tell them that he took $1,200 from one of the team members. To me, that goes beyond irresponsiblity. It is thievery.

    I wasn't there. I didn't see all this. But I have met him several times, and I did have to live through my daughter practically having a nervous breakdown due to this guy's antics. I have seen her get off the phone or off of Facebook in tears because of things he's said. (No one else is ever good enough ... they don't pray enough, whatever.)

    I'm not sure how the parents will receive me when I tell them, but I know them well enough that they will agree to meet with-me. My stand is that they have spent too many yrs bldng up this group to have their son destroy it.

    I also don't want my daughter to feel that I have gone behind her back to talk to them.

  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You feel strongly about this, don't you? It wouldn't still be bothering you if it didn't. He sounds very very much like the son of husband's advisor in grad school. On the right medications he is delightful. Off of them and he is naked on a corner preaching and begging, having given his clothes to homeless people, etc... He is a regular with the shelters, cops and the psychiatric ward when he stops taking his medications. Always goes to live like Jesus did (his parents are religious but NOT the type to advertise it, Know what I mean??).

    Your daughter knows it bothers you. Have you asked her if she would forgive you for telling his parents about this? I know that M (the mom) would be horrified to hear that her son had asked to lead something for a group she worked hard to build and then stole money from a group that was to be used for the group's purpose and used it for his own means.

    I don't know these people, and they may not react well. It depends on who they are. I would let them know that you do not blame anyone, that you understand that he is unusual and doesn't always understand things, but you feel strongly that they have a right to know that he pressured a volunteer to use money her church donated to give to the chidlren but he used it to buy a ticket to fly on a different plane from the rest of the group. The person who had the $$ or her family may have already let them know, but you won't rest easy until you make sure they know.

    If nothing else, it is a sign of how much the son needs help. Just be as gentle and non-blaming as you can.

    If you don't say this to them it will weigh on you and be a burden to you for years to come. You couldn't protect the volunteers or the orphans, but you can help protect this group that does so much for them by letting those in charge know about a substantial sum of money (huge sum to the natives) being misused.

    Good Luck!
  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I have to ask, since she was there and witnessed it all, would your daughter also be willing to go with you to express your concerns? What he did seriously impacts the safety of everyone with him, and if other parents have heard about it already they must concerned, too. Maybe if you present as concern for his and the group's safety, it will go over better?
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Have you discussed this with your daughter? It's very hard to do "the right thing", particularly at a young age. She sounds so mature and dedicated perhaps she will see the wisdom of you sharing. on the other hand (and I certainly hope not) she may actually be afraid of what the son might do or say. Perhaps that is a valid concern. If it were my easy child I would not violate her trust with-o her permission. Even if you all don't share the information the parents know they have a troubled son. When it is time to signup for the next trip I assume the experienced kids will pass. That will give a strong signal to the parents.

    I am sure you are agonizing over this decision. Obviously you are the only one who can make this choice. I'm sorry easy child was traumatized and sorry you have to face this decision. Sending caring thoughts your way. DDD
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I would definetly let them know your concerns. Write down everything and present it to them as the journal you made of easy child's trip. He is putting other people's lives at risk. I would also be concerned that he would not make sure everyone has the proper papers to RETURN to their home country on one of these trips.

    You could approach it as easy child enjoyed the 1st trip she went on but after the lack of organizational skills of the leader felt this last trip was way too stressful. She would not recommend anyone going again if A is the leader, it is just that important.

    I doubt that A told his parents about the $$$$ and the car. Both sound very fishy to me. If he took a different flight, I would question what in the world was he really doing? I have a feeling there was a ticket for him with everyone else and in view of the borrowed car there was a change of plans on his part! (I think I have watched too many Locked Up Abroad shows!)

    In light of that last trip, here is a list of items volunteers need to know are in place before they sign up and pay for their share of the trip. ..... Transportation (dates/times/locations), Hotels (dates/times/locations), phone numbers to the hotels (so family back home have an emergency contact), Strict Itenary to account for each hour of the day (even if there is free time, that will be on the itenary).

    The $$$ he took is stealing. Wonder how the church is reacting to that one? Or if the person who handed it over was too scared to report it back to the church?
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you all.
    Yes, I think she is too afraid to tell the church. And I think he kind of snowballed her because he reasoned that it really was for the trip because he was leading the trip.
    I will talk to my daughter tomorrow. One of her faults is that she likes to rescue people and I told her not to rescue him--spend your rescuing energies on the orphans. I don't think she really understands the damage he is doing to the organization.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think the parents need to know, and it sounds to me that A is using force of will to lead people.

    He doesn't really sound Aspie to me - bipolar possibly, in a manic phase. I have a friend, my former cleaner, who this sounds very much like. My friend is older and wiser (never thought I'd say that about him!) but otherwise can't organise things well and is quite unrealistic in how he does things. I'm on a committee with him at the moment and sometimes want to choke him. He is, however, fairly honest (unless its his own hide he is trying to protect).

    What if you go to the parents and say, "I am concerned that the wonderful ministry you set up could be in jeopardy. I haven't herd too much detail, but it does seem A was unable to really manage in practical terms." The first issues to mention would be his request for the team to stay up and pray all night as a priority, when the practical ones knew this would be a mistake.

    While I personally do not feel the need to fast or to do anything to excess physically, I do know some who follow that path. And they have rules they follow, which include what physical activity and other tasks they have to do at the same time. For example, you don't fast at a time when there are likely to be a lot of other expectations of you physically. So even in terms of those who practice fasting and prayer vigils for religious reasons, what he is doing seems uncontrolled, unmanaged and not really thought through.

    Spirituality is a personal thing and it is understandable for parents to value a child who has a strong belief system. However, I have also seen similar over-strong belief and odd practices in people who are mentally unstable. In a way, the clinging to religion in those people (not in every case, so don't flame me!) has been a symptom of something darker. Such as, I think in part, my friend. He send out an email last week outlining his current belief system. It was inappropriate and also very garbled. However, when we met at our meeting a few days later, he seemed together and fairly stable. Not functioning in practical ways really, but stable.

    A point to make to all members of the youth team - what everyone did should be transparent. If A feels it was right for him to have that money to pay for stuff they needed to get there, then of course A should have no trouble with his parents knowing the full circumstances. it is commonplace for funds raised for an organisation to be at least partly used to pay for administration. So if there is no problem, if he did nothing wrong, then of course it needs to be declared as administrative expenses and logged as such. If A is not allowing this, then that is wrong and also not in accord with the organisation's premise.

    Terry, talk to your daughter, tell her how you feel and why. Tell her you are concerned that his behaviour was so disorganised that he wasted resources which should have gone to where it was needed. Use the point I made, about the need for transparency if what A did was OK. And remind her - if it is NOT transparent, if A is trying to insist on secrecy, then that is a lie and one little lie can compound and destroy all the good work and wonderful effort of all the people who have contributed over the years.

    it is not in the organisation's interests for A to continue on unchecked and unsupervised. Also, it as his first trip unchaperoned and unsupported - where is the debrief?

    I hope you can resolve this one. But I have been in situations where an organisation I previously worked hard for, began to fall apart (similar reasons) and although I tried to save it, it was not possible while there was an atmosphere of secrecy and deceit. Finally I had to walk away.

  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Also, it as his first trip unchaperoned and unsupported - where is the debrief?

    Not sure they really had one. Right now he's emailing people and telling them he wants to get together to pray and apologize. I told easy child not to waste her time. It's "all about him."
    She went to his parents' house last wk and he made her lunch and they talked a bit. She said he was very sweet but difficult to talk to. She repeatedly asked him how he was doing after his near drowning, and he avoided an answer and said he would just do what God wanted him to. She said "But what do you think?" All she got was avoidance and evasion.

    I was miffed that she even went over there.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Ooh this doesn't sound good. I'm afraid you have to tell someone, either the parents or the church. Probably the church. His parents are probably used to baling him out, and the church needs to know if people were taken advantage of in their name.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Good points made. When you speak to easy child about it, stress the transparency that Marg brought up. It is an excellent point and agreat way to judge if something is or has happened that shouldn't - other's actions and your own.

    The young man I spoke about is bipolar. I forgot to type that in. His sister cannot function on or off medications, but he is okay when on them. The whole religious extremes, esp when you mentioned that he will do what God wants but cannot really say what he things or feels, sounds exactly like what this young man is like. It is also what my exSIL (who is bipolar) says and thinks.

    The parents need to know because they may think all was great on the trip - the kids may not know how to tell them the truth or may not want to upset them. They may think he was really doing awesomely at that time.

    The car and plane ticket screams drugs to me. Not because I am a locked up abroad fan, but because almost everyone I know hwo is bipolar with that religious bent also self medicates with drugs and alcohol. They don't seem to have the ability to keep from getting in too deep or backed into a corner or to keep from falling prey to some twisted logic about God being okay with drugs and wanting them to do whatever that involves drugs. Most of these arguments center around the drugs come from plants and God made all the plants and so they are always good. Man's law that says drugs are bad are influenced greatly by Satan so by doing whatever with drugs you are striking a blow against Satan and honoring God and his laws. Yes, I know a LOT of people who have truly believed this. NOT people that know each other or even live in the same state. They are easy prey, sadly.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I don't know about whether or not he has a mental disorder..........even aspie........because your post didn't give any real indication.

    That said, however, he is displaying typical religious fanaticism at it's best. Whether or not the fanaticism is due to a mental disorder (and usually it is) I can't tell you. But his behavior has become severe and is not only endangering himself but others. Someone, either you or another person, needs to have a major sit down with is parents.

    I lived with this all through my childhood. And I only cope with it as an adult as I flat out refuse to even touch the subject with my mother.

    The worst thing in my opinion about a religious fanatic is that it is impossible to convince them their behavior is completely out of control and irrational. It may be a huge battle to get others on board because the person you're trying to help is so "devout" and such that unless they get a huge taste of it up close and personal.........they find it hard to see the behavior for what it is.

    With my mom it seems her religious fanaticism is an effort to keep the paranoia ect of the schizophrenia at bay........or heck perhaps it's just yet another symptom of the schizophrenia itself. But I've watched over the years how her fanaticism increases in direct corrilation to her mental instability. When she is more stable it's not nearly as bad, although it never actually goes away.

    There is no reasoning with her because then you've gone over to the "dark side" and it actually just makes it worse. sigh

    Just an FYI.......when mom's on one of her tyraids? I'm devil's spawn, literally, sent to pry her from the path of God Himself................. oh, brother.

    You sound as if you feel strongly enough you need to have this sit down with the parents. Since they are putting other people's lives in this boys hands, they need to know what is really going on. But I don't envy you as it could go very bad very fast.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think I need to emphasise here that there is a big gulf between someone who is religious and devout, and someone who is a "religious fanatic". I think perhaps the distinction is how dysfunctional the person is, and also how much damage they can do to others. A genuinely devout and caring person is usually also very considerate. A fanatic can often choose to do what they want, often behaving selfishly, but uses whatever spiritual entity they follow as justification. Any religion will have its share of both these types of people.

    It can also be difficult for someone else to see the difference, if the truth is hidden. There are many cases where people believe someone is a good and honest person leading an upright life, only to find out that this is actually not the case. People get hurt, because the fanatic uses twisted logic to justify anything they want.

    A girl I once knew was very religious. She seemed to me to be a lovely, kind person who did a lot of jobs like babysitting, although she never held down a real job. She always seemed a dreamer, head in the clouds, although she was practical enough for me to trust her with the kids. But she was also saving her money to go on a pilgrimage of sorts, there was a place in Europe where there was a religious retreat which she said she felt God was telling her she should attend. She told us about it in church on many occasions, said God was telling her she should go on pilgrimage there. Of course she didn't have the money for it but she booked the tickets anyway then prayed aloud in church for a miracle and of course the money was found (the church elders donated it because otherwise - I don't know what would have happened when the bills came in). Her mother enabled this, was very proud of her spiritual daughter. They praised God for the miracle of the money materialising, but when you look at this from the point of view of people being emotionally blackmailed, there was no miracle.

    But what I did not know at the time, was this girl also had a 'crush' on a celebrity who lived in Europe. She had told her mother, and also a few people at the church, that God had told her that this celebrity would leave his wife and she (our girl) would marry him and lead him back to God. Her entire purpose in life was to bring this celebrity back to God, she said. The church elders were not happy with this and tried to talk to her; but her mother was also someone who would do whatever she wanted and then say, "God told me to." So when the church elders gave her money for her trip, they said that she must not deviate from the plan to go to the retreat, she must not attempt to contact the celebrity. She solemnly promised.
    And yes - you got it - she went to the retreat for barely two days before she checked out and began stalking the celebrity. She sat outside his home until the police were called. She found where his parents lived and went to talk to them, told them that God had said he would leave his wife for her, and could they please assist her in her quest? Totally out of touch with reality, I had never realised she was like this. She was about 20 at the time, the celebrity was in his 40s and happily married with kids half her age. It was really bizarre. The celebrity had to file a protection order against her and she was made to leave the country. She came back and all I remembered at the time, was her showing us pictures of her wonderful time at the retreat. She did mention to the church that she had also spent a little time in another location, but we had no idea of any of the celebrity stalking stuff at the time - we continued to only see the beautiful spiritual girl we knew. And of course, we continued to financially support her. of course, I know now it was all distortion, those photos were all taken over the two days she was there, and she said nothing to us personally about the celebrity or being deported.

    So that is the example of someone who seemed devout, but underneath was a fanatic and unbalanced.

    I only found this story out years later, long after the family had moved to the country, when one of the church elders, the one who had financed the girl's trip providing it was a pilgrimage, told me what had happened. I later heard more about it from a totally independent source.

    The problem with this case - I only knew this girl at the time, as a girl with a deep faith. The church elders kept the other stuff quiet to protect her. But in fact it enabled her to continue in her unhealthy obsession. It also allowed her to continue to solicit people for money for her "work for God". If the elders had been more open and honest, then fewer people would have been fleeced. She of course did not see that anything she was doing was dishonest. Because to her mind, any promise she was asked to make was not a promise worth keeping, if it meant she had to go against what she believed God had told her to do. It is sad - she was unable to recognise that it was not God speaking, but her own personal obsession.

    Honesty and transparency is important. If you can't talk to the parents, find a church elder to talk to and ask their advice. If you discover that they already know and are trying to keep it quiet - then you are stuck. So go carefully. But in any situation like this, my vote is always for transparency.

  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    but when you look at this from the point of view of people being emotionally blackmailed, there was no miracle.


    I am so sorry about that girl, Marg. Sheesh.

    I've got my work cut out for me. THANK YOU ALL!
  14. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Yikes! I agree with some of the other reposnses - I don't see Aspie at all, but would not be surprised to learn that A is bi-polar or schizophrenic or some combination thereof...

    I also thought "drugs" - there is no logical reason in the world A would need to ride on a different place and certainly no reason to take $1200 from the group. If there was some true emergency - I could see asking for the money...(and then making arrangement to pay it back!)...but the way you described it? It's theft - pure and simple.

    I'm not sure you need to even discuss the possible mental health aspects - as much as you need to address the safety issues. Falling asleep at the wheel could have killed everyone in the car. Staying up all night fasting before heading out into unfamiliar territory could have led to accidents and serious injuries. Having the leader fly separately meant he was not available if something had happened during the flight. Having the group travel abroad with "insufficient funds" leaves the group vulnerable if the unexpected should arise.

    I think you should approach this as though you were bringing your concerns to the group's management - not as though you are "telling parents about their child's behavior"...

    Let us know how it goes!
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you.

    You know, I hadn't even considered the drug aspect of it before.

    I do know that he likes to go with-o sleep. And he has since admitted that it wasn't God talking to him when he took a dive, literally, "It was mania." That was a good chuck of reality, just to admit that.
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was assuming when I read this at first that the $1200 was to pay for his "all at once, gotta have it now" plane ticket. I mean, you cant normally just walk into an airport and get the same airfare that you get if you plan a trip in advance on another airline. Guess I was wrong?

    I do think this boy isnt up to the task he was attempting to do. Something is wrong. Was he trying to do wrong? I dunno. It could be an emotional or mental problem that needs to be handled but I do think someone needs to know just for his own and others safety.
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Turns out he did it a few days in advance, but still ...

    The good news is that I had lunch with-easy child yesterday and she is all on board to talk to the parents. She texted two of the other teammates to get them on board as well.

    We went home and left a msg for the parents. They have not called us back yet.

    In the meantime, husband came up with-a great idea: since it's been 10 mo's since the trip, and the parents are going to say, Why are you telling us this now?
    the intro will be that easy child is starting a club at school and wants to make sure that the money goes where it's supposed to go. Uh, duh. Can't believe we didn't think of that b4--all she talks about is this club.

    She leaves for school tomorrow. Don't know what we'll do after that ...
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If it does no good to talk to the parents, go to the church elders. Again, push the need for transparency and honesty. In the future, if they won't revisit the past. "What can we learn from this?" is the way to go.

    Be prepared for the parents to react with hostility and cover-up. I really do think you need a church elder (or more) on board ahead of time, because if you go to them afterwards, the parents may get to them first and accuse you of making things up. Or worse, accuse your daughter of trying to besmirch the reputation of a lovely, spiritual young man perhaps to promote herself as the chosen leader next time.

    it's sad, but people will do this if they feel they or a family member is in danger.

    I actually discussed this at our church on Sunday, got a few opinions. Of course, there was not the issue of a church family being in the firing line, so it was probably easier to pontificate when they did not have to make any hard decisions. But the advice I got was, "Don't allow bad secrets - they poison the good deeds of others."

  19. This kind of behavior is no surprise to God.
    Matt 18:15-17 Dealing with a Sinning Brother

    “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

    I've got a ton of "church stories" that would curl your hair!

    My oldest easy child is fed up with those within our circles who consider themselves to be the religious elite... she still loves God... But she's going through a real crisis of faith because of all the meddling "good christians" who are so busy trying to play "savior" to our difficult child-s

    I consider this crisis of faith to be a good thing. It's part of growing up. It's part of developing discernment. It is an important part of strengthening her walk with the Lord.

    It's important to remember Jesus spoke most harshly to the Pharisees (the self-proclaimed "religious elite" of His day).
  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you all. I'll let you know what happens.